The paper counterpart to the UK driving licence has been officially scrapped, with the government claiming it will save the taxpayer millions each year.
Instead of the paper counterpart, driver details have now been replaced with a new online service, cutting down on admin and paperwork charges, and supposedly making it easier to share information.
To view the full licence, motorists can now simply log on to the government’s website and search for ‘view driving licence in order to check penalty points and other information.
Could save almost nine million a year
Drivers are also able to print off a special code which can be shared with people who need the details, for example an employer or car hire company, while a printable PDF is also downloadable.
According to the DVLA, more than 445,000 counterpart licences had to be replaced after drivers lost them, with £20 charged to cover each cost – equating to around £8,900,000 in lost licences alone.
Transport Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “Replacing the counterpart with an online service will save motorists money and reduce unnecessary red tape.
“It will also benefit employers and vehicle hire companies. Relying on the counterpart meant relying on a potentially out of date piece of paper.
“Now, when the driver chooses to share it, those organisations will be able to see completely accurate information direct from DVLA’s records. This will reduce their risk and improve road safety.”
However, many remain sceptical of the licence changes, with motoring organisations and insurers particularly worried that the shake-up could cause unnecessary hassle for drivers hiring cars abroad.
The code supplied by the government’s website is valid for 72 hours only, meaning that holidaymakers could be at risk of getting caught out of they have no internet signal.
Furthermore, according to some experts, both drivers in the UK and car hire firms alike are severely unprepared for the changeover, with some having not heard of the licence changes at all.
Mark Bower, from hire insurance firm MoneyMaxim, said: “Most people are simply unaware that these changes are on the way – and it is not just renters.
Public and firms still unaware of the changes
“I spoke to one big car hire firm in Portugal this week and they knew nothing of the changes. Six weeks away from implementation, the whole thing is very muddled.”
As a result, experts have urged drivers to continue to carry the paper counterpart to their licence if hiring cars abroad, even though they no longer hold any legal status.
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